So, now that they’ve gone live, you might be asking yourself whether all the hoopla about expanded text ads was justified. Well, we analyzed the results that our PPC clients saw and put together our findings:
When it comes to important metrics like click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates, the results were mixed. Initially, we saw much higher CTRs on our expanded text ads when the migration was optional. That was likely because many of our clients’ competitors hadn’t yet made the switch, so the competitive advantage of having ads that were twice as big as the other guys was huge! As is typically the case with these things though, CTRs and conversion rates ultimately stabilized out. Some of the expanded text ads were big winners, while others were downright dogs. Overall, the averages on our most valuable metrics were statistically insignificant between standard and expanded text ads once the switch became mandatory.
The messaging that was used in our top performing standard text ads wasn’t always the top-performer when we basically just migrated these ads over to expanded text ads. New calls-to-action, value propositions, promotional codes, and so forth took the throne when it came to our expanded text ads, prompting us to write and test entirely new ads to fit the new larger format. In some cases, we even tried out a whole new new brand voice to fit the more “conversational” aspect of the expanded text ads. In many cases, the less formal language performed better than it’s more rigid “corporate brand voice” counterparts.
There was a lot more to test when it came to expanded text ads due to the addition of a second headline and a vanity URL, which meant that A/B testing was more difficult and actionable data took longer to accumulate. This often meant that we didn’t have a real “winner” nearly as soon as we would have with standard text ads (this was especially true for clients with smaller budgets and in more niche verticals).
Some clients benefitted substantially more from their expanded text ads than others. This led us to conclude that certain industries have taken more quickly to expanded text ads, whereas searchers in other industries may still be a bit more hesitant to fall in love with them.
While we don’t have any way to quantify this, the general feedback that we’ve heard from business owners and searchers is that they like expanded text ads more because they look more like organic search engine results and less like tacky little advertisements. This positive sentiment has got to be good news for businesses using PPC marketing and for the search industry in general. (We know we’re excited about it!)
So where do we go from here?
Well, first of all, now that expanded text ads are standard practice, I guess we can just go back to simply calling them “ads” again. But moving forward with these ad formats I think we’ll see industry-leading brands testing the snot out of everything and finding new ways to make the existing restrictions work for their business goals with clever little hacks and advanced strategies. I also predict that we’ll see brands creating landing pages that mirror the vanity URL structure used in their ads (www.domain.com/keyword1/keyword2). Lastly, think that we’ll see businesses using dynamic keyword insertion less now that ads have a more conversational billboard-like flow to them and less of a yard-sign feel to them.
What do you think 2017 has in store for advertisers in the way of PPC advertising now that expanded text ads are the new name of the game? Let our readers know in the comments!
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!